Posts Tagged ‘Haro Strait’

J-Pod and L-12′s once again!!!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

We left our Friday Harbor location today, hoping for a great day with the whales in the Salish Sea. We headed south towards Cattle Pass where we saw dozens of harbor seals having a great time foraging. From there, we headed into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Haro Strait off the south end of San Juan Island where we encountered the L-12′s, a smaller sub-group of the larger L-Pod (our resident killer whales). It didn’t take long before we recognized L-41 otherwise known as Mega who was born in 1977. Close by to mega was L-25, Ocean Sun, who is estimated to be born in 1928!

Research on our Southern Resident Killer Whales began in 1973, all whales born after this time will have a specific birthday that is known. Any whales born before 1973 will have an estimated birth year such. For more information on the individual whales check out the Center For Whale Research at

Another beautiful day on the water while watching some spectacular whale behavior.

Heather, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris

Boys Will Be Boys!

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

The Southern Residents are still in the area, and we found them today around 3:00PM heading south in Haro Strait near Kelp Reef (48°33.11N 123°13.47W). The first whales we encountered were Blackberry (J27) and Mike (J26) who had made their way into the K18s possibly trying to score a date, or at least some companions to travel with. Mike (J26) was however keeping his distance behind the group while Blackberry (J27) was right in the middle, what seemed like a nice wingman move to me!

In total we saw about 15 or so Killer Whales, all Southern Residents, including this group, others we traveled with, and ones that were further off in the distance. Another amazing day on the water!

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

Southern Residents Come in With the Fog!

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Supposedly it’s September, but the last two mornings here have been completely blanketed by fog. All the more adventure we say!

And today it was as we headed directly for the thick of it with rumor of Black and Whites on the other side.  Once we reached Cattle Pass the eeriness set in and we were confronted with limited visibility and an immediate chill. The naturalist had everyone’s eyes peeled for creatures that may be lurking amongst the midst, an easy distraction technique that also seconds as help for navigation through the area.

As we made our way deeper into the strait the fog began to lift and wouldn’t ya know it, our friends were there to greet us. Members of J and K pod were spread out, feeding approximately a mile west of Hein Bank (Haro Strait). Cappuccino (K21), Mike(J26), and Blackberry (J27) were all present amongst 20 or so others. Today couldn’t have been better for whale watching as we were surrounded by whales on all sides. Each time we tried to leave, more whales would appear. Blackberry (J27) was the last to greet us and he was brilliant. He rolled over and swam on his side parallel to the boat, raising his pectoral fin, and then moving onto his back, belly up, and throwing his tail up entirely out of the water 5 times in a row!

As we left him and the others to enjoy their home, the fog had lifted for a sunny return to Friday Harbor. Below are some pictures of our wonderful day!

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

Naturalist Tara's face before entering the fog!

Southern Resident with Fog Blanket and San Juan Island in the background

Where we traveled...










Male Orca


Steller Sea Lion posing at Whale Rocks


Erica, wonderful guest enjoying her tour!

Fun in the Sun; the Wildlife Rendition!

Friday, September 14th, 2012

What a fabulous day on the water! We started the trip off with an abundance of wildlife as we made our way through San Juan Channel. We saw dozens upon dozens of Harbor Seals hauled out, sun bathing on any rocky islet available and bobbing through the riptides in search of food. We also saw three Steller Sea Lions swimming amongst the riptides, what seemed to be another marine mammal thanksgiving!

Once we reached Haro Strait we encountered our first Minke Whale just south of Salmon Bank about a mile offshore of San Juan Island (48°25.00N 122°56.00W). We watched it surface a few times and then all of a sudden another Minke popped up right across our bow. Soon after, a third surfaced on our starboard side. Once we were surrounded, we cut off our engine and simply watched. Surprisingly the Minkes weren’t being very mysterious, instead they were being extremely active! They came up multiple times by our boat, allowing us to hear their blows and see the full extent of their 30-35 ft long bodies and they were lunging like crazy showing us their full rostrum and stealing away the food from any birds in sight.

The Minkes were surprising, the birds went flying, and the people were smiling!

On our way back in we visited the Bald Eagles nest and the Steller Sea Lions hauled out on Whale Rocks. They too were enjoying the sun, about 15+ of them out basking away, and about 5 or so playing around in the water.

Another great day full of wildlife and whales!

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

Too Many Whales to Count, Too Awestruck to Care!

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Around 10:40 AM this morning we received a Southern Resident Killer Whale report: members of J, K, and L pod headed north in Haro Strait. We were extremely excited yet a bit uneasy knowing they were headed for Active Pass (Canada). Luckily enough by the time we boarded and headed out for the strait the whales had turned around. It couldn’t have been more perfect timing.

As we made our way into the gut of the strait, reaching a center point between Stewart, Moresby, Sidney, and Henry Island (48°38.51N 123°14.37W), we began to see the leaders of the pods headed in our direction; all we had to do was sit and wait. As the whales began to pass our boat we realized they were coming in all directions so our best option was to cut the engine and simply watch. No words can describe this experience, but I’ll try my best to summarize.

It was one of those moments in time where everything became frozen. The boat and the people were frozen. The sky was frozen. Other boats on the water were frozen. The islands off in the distance were frozen. The only thing moving around us were the whales. It grew completely silent. The only thing you could hear was the sound of your own heart pounding through your chest and the exuding exhalations of the whales as they broke the water’s surface. At this point in time, the only thing that seemed real, were the whales.

We were lucky enough today, to watch members of all three pods swim past our boat. They moved across our bow, across our stern, and even alongside us. They were also chattin’ up a storm on the hydrophone, some of the best vocalizations to date! It seemed as though several of them had swam past us just to say hi and at one point a female and calf stopped right alongside our boat and simply sat there logging at the surface.

Man, what day!

Naturalist Tara and Captain Mike! San Juan Safaris


Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Man was today a day for whales in Haro Strait; we saw a Humpback Whale (48°29.81N 123°11.95W) and 6 Transient Orcas (48°27.21N 123°09.33W)!!!!  There was also rumor of transients north, where most of the whale watch fleeted ended up going, but our decision to go south and around San Juan turned for the better. There were hardly any other boats around and we got the bonus of seeing a Humpback! Now if I were you, I would choose the San Juan Safaris crew.

Let’s take a little risk, make a little adventure, and see the best of what we’ve got out here!

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

Minkes and River Otters!

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Today we were lucky enough to see Minke whales on all three of our trips! We encountered them in Griffin Bay, Cattle Pass, and Haro Strait. September weather has also been treating us nicely with beautiful sunny days, and glassy seas.

The real treat however was near the end of the day when we saw an entire family of River Otters at Long Island. It started out as a single sighting, but as we watched, one River Otter turned into a whole family. Every time the otters would go back into the water they would come out with more. It was quite hysterical actually, trying to guess how many there were, and then seeing them multiply. I suppose they are somewhat similar to the Southern Residents in that matter, leaving no one behind!

Ha Ha Just Awesome!

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris


Friday, September 7th, 2012

Today we traveled all the way to Victoria to see some Transient killer whales. It was the T10s grouped in their usual threesome traveling near shore just off Clover Point (Canada 48°23.97N 123°21.90W). Although a small group, they did not seem like something I’d want to mess with!! Moving like a pack of wolves they scoured the shoreline in search for marine mammals. Within minutes of our presence, they had made a kill. Now it is a given that these animals are going to be aggressive in making a kill, they are obviously the top predators of the ocean for a reason, but their proficiency in doing so is simply remarkable.

We left them heading east for Haro Strait as we made our way back to San Juan. We had just enough time to make a quick stop at Whale Rocks, and wouldn’t ya know it, there were AT LEAST 20 Steller Sea Lions hauled out and striking a pose.

Nice day on the water Id say!

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

The Three Minketeers!

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Although Minke Whales are typically solitary animals, we saw 3 of them today traveling in close proximately to one another in Haro Strait (south of Salmon Bank and San Juan Island, 48°24.97N 122°59.02). They were all doing their Minke thing, traveling from bait ball to bait ball and lunging after any food in their path. They surfaced multiple times showing off the full extent of their bodies from rostrum, to dorsal fin, to the entire length of their back. At one point they even surrounded us, one on each side of the boat. As we turned around to head back in, we were pleasantly surprised with the third Minke who had paid us a nice visit across our bow, up close and personal, and continued to cross alongside our port for all guests to see.

These 30+ ft. whales are often underappreciated, but today they were brilliant!

Naturalists Jen Jelly and Tara, San Juan Safaris

Transient orcas…on the move!

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

We journeyed north around San Juan Island today, first passing Spieden Island en route to Haro Strait.  Several mouflon sheep and sitka deer were feeding and resting on the hillside of Spieden Island.  Somehow they can carefully traverse the cliffs just above the chilly waters.  We circled exposed rocks to the southwest of the island where six harbor seals were resting.  We spotted at least one pup.  After we were south of Henry Island (48°35.33N, 123°12.53W) we began to see spray…the spray of four transient orcas!  They were moving towards the northeast, hugging the shoreline.  We believe this group included T19B.  Just to the west, closer to Sydney Island (48°37.30N, 123°15.69W), we observed another group of four transients, possibly T60s, milling and then moving to the northeast.  Upon our return to Friday Harbor, we encountered two bald eagles sitting together at the very top of a tree on the north side of Spieden Island.  The appeared to be watching the surface waters for their next meal.  Calm day on the water with so many things to see!

SJS Naturalist Jenny